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How Do You Combat Spiritual Dryness?

April 10, 2013

If we are honest with ourselves I think that we would admit that we all go through periods where we feel especially close to God and periods of time where we feel like we are distant from God.   The question at hand today is; how do how you end your spiritual dry spell.  Is there a certain practice that you exercise when you realize that your spiritual life needs a tune-up, does your dry spell end naturally, or does it take a major event or letdown in your life for you to reacquaint yourself with God?

For me the answer is never that easy.  Personally, I feel as if I cruse along for months attending daily mass, confessing weekly, praying the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully, and most importantly of all avoiding sin.  Then I seem to hit a spiritual speed bump. The length of time varies, but I seem to hit a dry spell.  I attend mass less frequently, make less frequent confessions, and neglect even the most basic of daily devotions and prayers.

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I’m not entirely sure what snaps me into or out of these dry spells.  I was thinking the other day about what causes spiritual dryness and how to combat it when it happens so that the experience doesn’t derail my spiritual life for extended periods of time.  The problem is that without being in the situation it is difficult to put myself into the correct mindset needed for true deliberation.

Looking back at my life these bouts with dryness seem to happen when my life gets too busy.  It is easy in today’s world to focus too much on the goal of making money, continuing education, or the dating scene.  Looking back I can see that the times when I’ve been through my longest spiritual droughts have been the periods when I’m most successful.  They have been the times when I have filled my life with worldly victories; either a relationship, graduate school, or a good job.  These are the times when I seem to tell God “I’ve got this, You can take a break”.  This is the time when Satin enters our lives.  After all when we force God out that space must be filled with something.

The truth is that these are the times when I should be thanking God the most.  Instead I turn my times of success I abandon Him.  Consequently these are also the times when I fall flat on my face.  Taking a serious look at my life it seems that every single time that I have pulled away from God that he has shown me who was really in charge of my life.  I’m not saying that God was punishing me by personally having me laid off or ending  a relationship, but I am saying that God knows what is best for us and that in these periods where I have been led astray He has (sometimes not so gently) put me back on the right track.

This takes me back to the thesis of this essay.  How does one get out of a spiritual dry spell.  After much reflection I don’t know that there is an answer.  Is it possible that, if we still have Him in our hearts, that He will always help us find our way back?

I honestly don’t know.  What are your thoughts?

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From → Everyday Faith

8 Comments
  1. Maria.Nicole permalink

    This always gets to me too… I think it’s a little different for different people (depending on what issue you are dealing with and how you react to it), but ultimately all the Saints say the same thing on the subject.

    From what I gather, dry spells are supposed to be a period of spiritual struggle, growth, and purging of worldly desire. Like when a child first learns to walk, the parent holds their hands and gently moves their little feet on the ground. This is similar to our good times, when we feel like we are walking with God. But… we will never learn to walk *with* Him (not just with His help), unless we learn to walk by ourselves at His side. You might not have had the experience of just trying to encourage a young child to learn to walk… it’s definitely not easy. They prefer to crawl (or revert back to where they feel comfortable) because it’s too hard for them to do by themselves. Yet, through struggle, perseverance, and constant encouragement by the parent, they are able to learn. We can’t just be content with crawling around all our lives because it’s easier or more comfortable… there is so much we would be missing if we didn’t persevere.

    When we don’t feel like we want to (or need to) go to Mass, Confession, ect., God is testing us to see if we truly understand the spiritual importance of these things, over our physical emotions/preferences. When we don’t rely on the physical enjoyment of growing closer to God, we have taken a step towards spiritual enjoyment of Him.

    So, to answer your question: “How does one get out of a Spiritual Dry spell?”, Well… ultimately it’s through perseverance, but I think it would be different for you than me.

    My times of spiritual dryness are generally during bad times when I’m struggling and I’m tired and feel like I don’t want to do this anymore. Where you seem like your spiritual dryness is during good times, where you feel great and you’re running out ahead of the crowd, and then all of the sudden you realize that you started following another path instead of the one everybody else is racing on.

    I combat my failures by never saying “Oh, I’m too tired for this or that” (Although it is a delicate balance to recognize what we physically can’t and can’t give, that is a different topic). My advice to you would to never, ever, say “Oh… I don’t need to say my prayers this evening because something else would be more fun” or “I’m too busy for Daily Mass.” This is kind of like saying “Oh… I don’t need to read that map or ask for directions, I know where I’m going.” — Might be an epic struggle for a guy, haha — At those times, stop, realize that God HAS to be #1 in your life (or like you said… you’ll eventually end up falling on your face), and re-orient your goals towards him. Don’t let pride keep knocking you flat on your face and I won’t let despair tie me down.

    You have some good insights on where and when you fall away from God, so you just have to remember to persevere during those times!

    Sorry for the long reply! I just love talking about this subject.

  2. chad1939 permalink

    I like your incite. Unfortunately, in the past when I’ve entered the spiritual desert the experience tends to be prolonged. Perseverance can only take you so far in a prolonged situation.

    For me, thus far in my life, it seems to take a life shaking situation to make me realize how much I need the faith.

    Don’t worry about the length of your response. I love hearing from readers. When I started blogging again I never dreamed I’m have so many readers. It is a great motivation.

  3. Maria.Nicole permalink

    Ah yes, lengthy perseverance is definitely is a struggle… I have been blessed enough to be on a short seesaw (for now). It’s also important to remember that we don’t deserve nor need spiritual consolation in our daily lives. The whole point of why God brings us through spiritual dryness is to learn to do them simply and only because God asks us to. In that way we learn to love Him over everything else.

    I will keep you in my prayers!

  4. I have been in recovery from alcohol addiction for 24 years now, and I am in the process of writing the story of my addiction and recovery. Recalling how God has saved me from certain death so many times, and the Grace He has given me to help others in the same situation fills me with extraordinary gratitude. So, the one word answer to your question is simply “gratitude”.

  5. George permalink

    I have been in a spiritually dry period for a long time, and I attend Liturgy weekly, receive the sacraments regularly, and pray the rosary daily. I feel lost and abandoned by God at times. I cannot seem to get out of it. Any suggestions?

    George

    • chad1939 permalink

      I’m of course no expert, but I find that when I’m dry I go through the motions until it hits me again. I go to mass more often and pray as regularly as I can. Most of my issues with dryness seem to come from distractions that lead to spiritual laziness. If I refocus myself I tend to get back to where I want to be spiritually.

      If I am in a particularly bad state I try to surround myself with my faithful friends, talk to holy priests, or even go on a retreat.

  6. Tapestry permalink

    The first time it happened to me I was pregnant with the fourth child. I had panic attacks and couldn’t stay in Church for long periods of time. I just felt very enclosed it was stifling. I still prayed, I felt Jesus was with me in that deep black hole. I could see a pinpoint of light above me but it took 2-1/2 years before I was able to crawl out and I got a bit stronger in faith afterwards and now I find I am there again. No real reasons I can point to, my husband seems to be there too, so maybe that is why I am? My parents and brother have passed away, my children, none of the 4, go to Church regularly, 2 believe, and 2 are atheists right now. I feel like I have been spinning my wheels and making no progress. I stopped going to Holy Communion last month, didn’t feel I could approach Him with these sins on my soul, and until I find a way out of this its not going to be a good thing for me since my faith is all I have left to hold on to, its my only certain thing in this chaotic world.

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